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Josef Hoffmann

Austrian architect and designer Josef Hoffman was also a dedicated (though rather taciturn) teacher. Le Corbusier was one of his students, and one whom Hoffmann offered a job in his office. Hoffmann also established a production community of visual artists, the Wiener Werkstätte, to promote utilitarian, contemporary design.

Hoffmann had an inclination to geometry and this is exemplified in many of his designs. His upholstered armchair, the Kubus (1910) is predicated on the square. The Kubus is an extraordinarily handsome, even formal, design with all of its proportions, legs and even leather patchwork being overtly geometrically pure, such as cube legs, and a well-defined tessellating pattern that drew attention to the plump, individually hand-stitched panels. It was attention-grabbing, almost radical, and successful, spurring Hoffmann to expand on it by designing two and three-seater sofas in the exact same vein.

It is incredible realising that the Kubus Chair design is over 100 years old now; it hasn’t lost a single bit of relevance in the world that we occupy today. The Kubus was unveiled at the 1910 Buenos Aires International Exhibition celebrating the centennial of Argentina’s independence. Le Corbusier would come up with his own modern leather comfort sofa, the Grand Comfort sofas some 18 years later.

Hoffmann's interest in squares and cubes, in the endless possibilities of the horizontal and the vertical, led to the nickname Quadratl-Hoffmann ("Square Hoffmann") for him and his style to be dubbed Quadratstil (square style).

The sofa shown above is a replica.